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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant biography of Caesar that aims to cover all his facets
Adrian Goldsworthy is known to me as a writer of exceptional ability, especially when covering complex subjects. In this biography, he ambitiously attempts to cover Caesar the politician, Caesar the General and as much of Caesar the man that's available to history (sadly, very little). Many biographies concentrate on his military campaigns at the expense of his political...
Published on 9 Sep 2006 by J. L. Ashurst

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good craft no creativity
Praise for the other works of this author induced me to buy this book. Caesar here does not come across as a colossus, but as a busy man moving from A to B, sometimes willy-nilly. Generally sympathetic to his hero, Goldsworthy demonstates knowledge of the basic primary sources without showing major reflective/critical powers. That is to say, I was disappointed by a lack...
Published on 23 Oct 2008 by arbiter


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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant biography of Caesar that aims to cover all his facets, 9 Sep 2006
By 
J. L. Ashurst (Crewe, U.K.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Adrian Goldsworthy is known to me as a writer of exceptional ability, especially when covering complex subjects. In this biography, he ambitiously attempts to cover Caesar the politician, Caesar the General and as much of Caesar the man that's available to history (sadly, very little). Many biographies concentrate on his military campaigns at the expense of his political aspect (a big mistake, as the two are indivisible), or vice versa. It was a gamble, but Goldsworthy more than suceeds. If you've never read a biography of Caesar before, start with this one - but that doesn't mean he neglects the scholarly aspects. He's not afraid to lay out to the reader the historical controversies that still swirl about Caesar, just as they did when he was alive.

Goldsworthy has the ability to make a complex subject appear both clear and simple, and a highly engaging writing style. I hope he goes on to cover Sulla, Marius, Pompeius and Cicero: or perhaps even older Roman characters. I hope I'll have the opportunity to buy many more of his books. I grew up when narrative history had fallen out of fashion. I'm so glad people have realised that history can be written this way, without sacrificing any academic integrity. Buy this book and you won't be disappointed!
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography, 20 Oct 2006
By 
Adrian Goldsworthy's latest book, "Caesar", is another one of those great books that you cannot afford to miss this year. Following on from his excellent run of books; "The Punic Wars" and "In The Name of Rome", this new title is a great addition to anyone's library.

The tale of Julius Caesar has been told before many times but I doubt as well as this in recent times. The research and story telling is exceptional. I found the book easy to read although it is quite detailed in regards to the political and social events and background that made up Rome during Caesar's period.

The accounts of Caesar's military campaigns were well told and presented with a number of basic maps to assist the reader in following the action. The author presented the facts covering Caesar's life in an un-biased way and left it to the reader to make up his own mind in regards to those controversial events in Caesar's life.

The book is about 520 pages in narrative text along with a number of black & white photographs and maps. Overall this is a good book and I am sure anyone who has an interest or passion for this period of history or for Julius Caesar will enjoy this book immensely.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Veni Vidi Vici - I came I saw I conquered, 29 July 2006
By 
D (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Adrian Goldsworthy has produced a gripping history of one of the most colourful men to emerge from the classical world and indeed throughout history. The book traces Caesar's life from his early year and his exploits as a young man through his political and military career and of course his infamous death on the Ides of March 44BC.

Goldsworthy, a scholar of ancient warfare has detailed the military campaigns of Caesars proconsular command in Gaul with great clarity. There is an abundance of maps, which, unfortunately, are conspicuously absent in many books. There are several pages of b/w photographs of busts, coins and Rome etc. The complexities of Roman politics are handled by the author with ease, making this book a great read, enthusiast or not.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An all-time favourite!, 22 July 2010
By 
J. Neal "jneal" (Sussex) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
I was really quite surprised by this book, it is a treasure.

I became interested in reading a more in-depth account of the life of Caesar after reading Tom Holland's 'Rubicon' so I bought this book in the hope that it would be a good complement to the excellent overview of the fall of the Roman Republic that Holland had described so well.

I must say that I wasn't prepared to be so taken with a biography that easily rates as one of the most exciting, involving and fascinating narratives I have ever read. Since completing this book I have read other biographies (for example an account of Caesar's adopted son Octavian/Augustus) and nothing really compares with it. I would say that Goldsworthy's style and scholarship is simply so good that you cannot go wrong with this biography of the great general and dictator and it would make a fabulous gift for anyone with any interest in the period. It reads like a novel in fact, and at no point does it become tiresome, dull, or dry and dusty in the way that so many classical commentaries unfortunately manage.

A triumph for Goldsworthy! (Pun intended!)
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reliable, authoritative and safe, 9 Jun 2007
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
With Adrian Goldsworthy you know you're in competent academic hands (unlike Bettany Hughes or Tom Holland) and so can rely on his reading of the sources and the scholarship on Caesar. But this isn't by any means a dry, academic tome - Goldsworthy writes well for a lay audience and wears his (intense) learning very lightly. His admiration for Caesar shines through (something which, perhaps, he has to dampen a little in his academic work?) but this is never hero-worshipping for all that.

He sets Caesar in his time but never allows the political background to overshadow the man. Being Goldsworthy, there is a lot of emphasis on Caesar the general in both Gaul and the civil wars, but he doesn't allow military tactics to take centre stage, and stays with the mind of the man.

I enjoyed this book hugely, but my only tiny criticism is that it's a safe read - if you know anything about Caesar, then there won't be any surprises here: all the sources are reviewed, all the incidents dramatised well. This isn't, of course, Goldsworthy's fault as, after all, Caesar has fascinated for millenia but I guess for me the Christian Meier biography of Caesar is still a personal favourite above this one for the way in which he stretches his reading of Caesar.

So, this is highly recommended, but read Meier too and compare their views.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading, 25 April 2012
By 
Luis Mansilla M (Viña del Mar, Chile) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
It took me a long time to read this book and it was worth it. I am not very much enthusiastic with very long books since I tend to get bored BUT this was not the case. I agree this book is, perhaps, a recommended reading for readers not very acquainted with the life of Caesar and the history Rome, such is my case, and there is nothing much to add to all these reviews, but to remark the attractive, sometimes absorbing reading of this great personality -obviously not perfect- and a life full of accomplishment, especially his years away from Rome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sound analysis of a very interesting period of history, 27 Oct 2011
This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
For those who do not know much about Adrian Goldsworthy, he is a reputable Professor of Ancient History who earned his PHD from the University of Oxford. So this is certainly a book that is suitable for those interested in academic study if that it what you are looking for. However, it is also suitable for anyone who is interested by the period. I bought this book after reading 'Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire' because I wanted to look at an area of Roman History that was far more specific and covered in a more academically rigorous way and, naturally, the most famous Roman of them all seemed a good place to start.

The book charts the entire 56 years of the life of Caius Julius Caesar from his childhood, through his impressive rise to the pinnacle of Roman Politics and his famous us campaigns (including a civil war) to his assasination on the Ides of March 44BC as the sole and undiputed 'master' of the Roman world (but never emperor in title). Proffessor Goldsworthy is a very good historian whose knowledge and analysis of the sources, literary and archaeological, is very sound. At the same time he also has a talent for combining this with a thrilling narrative which makes great storytelling. Overall, this is a marvellous account which really accelerates from page 70 and keeps building until the assasination at the end of the book; it really does bring the fascinating subject matter to life.

Goldsworthy begins by giving the reader the appropriate background context of the late Roman Republic; it covers the period immediately before Caesar's birth in 100 BC/BCE in which the oligarchy of families which ran the Republic oligopolised the land in Italy and beyond by buying up vast swathes from poor farming families, most of whose menfolk had been slaughtered while fighting Rome's wars against Carthage. This sparked a situation which, long story short, led to a constitutional crisis and the murder of a nobleman. Goldsworthy writes that 'Already, before Caesar was born, the Republic had been confronted by a number of crises and it had not dealt with them well.' Goldsworthy then provides an intriguing insight into Roman society and the political culture of the elite (patricians) who governed Rome during Caesar's formative years - one which swung in a near schizophrenic manner from relative calm (but with the threat of rivalries amongst noble families always lurking beneath the surface) to violent civil war. It was in such a context that Caesar received his political education and in which the man that later came to dominate the Republic learned how to climb the 'greasy pole' of Roman politics. The account covers not only a narrative of such political events, but attempts (successfully in my view) also to provide a representation of how the political system worked insofar as the fragmentary primary sources enable such an endeavour. The private life of Caesar, his wives, his passions and, as far as possible, the development of his personal convictions are also chartered.

Then, of course, the campaigns in Gaul (modern day France) are covered with great mastery of detail and, as always, a very engaging narrative which provides a view not only of Caesar's exploits but the very nature of war and the craft of the general in the Ancient World. The Civil War, fought in Spain, Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Egypt and Africa across four years, in which Caesar wrested control of the Roman State are also covered with a skilful combination of narrative, an insight into the mind of the man and, of course, a wider insight into the nature of Roman politics and culture. The final section of the work covers Caesar's period of personal rule as the Emperor of Rome in all but name (he never took the title of King or Emperor for political reasons) until the 44 BC/BCE assassination that ended his life and once more threw the Roman world into turmoil.

Overall, it is an impressive study in terms of the difficulty of making use of the primary material available, which can often be scarce or of poor quality, and in terms of what Goldsworthy sets out to achieve - a suitably complex and rounded representation of a complicated human being living in an alien society and culture in extraordinary times. This is, as the product states, the life of a man, a general and a politician, but it is also a image of the society that produced him.

If you're not sure, buy it,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent!, 8 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
this book is an absolute monster... in that it attempts to cover the whole of Caesar's life in one book.
Adrian Goldsworthy has written many books on Roman History so this wouldnt be too hard an area for him to cover and he compiles this book very well. it is probably the definitive book on the life of the great man Caesar.

a must have for anyone remotely interested in Rome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb biography, 28 May 2010
By 
John Lambeth - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
This book gives an excellent background to the life and times of Caesar, from his beginnings, through the military campaigns, to his poltical career ending in the dictatorship. Written objectively, Goldsworthy brings one of the giants of history to life, yet no prior reading is necessary to enjoy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Read, 6 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
Sometimes history really is better than fiction. And here Goldsworthy, probably best known to most as the 'history bloke who appeared at the start of the TV series Rome', really digs into the background and life of Caesar. A briliant general maybe, but a womaniser who was sleeping with the wives of many other Roman Senators! Some good 'trivia' backstories - I loved the description of Mark Anthony being a respectable young Roman until he was introduced by a friend to wine and women.

Caesar can often be mentioned in the same phrases with Hitler and then with Alexander. Was he a tyrant or was he the man that might have made Rome even greater? His legacy is undeniable, and this book is a fascinating read. Excellent stuff!
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Caesar: The Life Of A Colossus
Caesar: The Life Of A Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy
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